Dec. 27 ♥ Celebrate and Complete 2016

So many people have looked upon 2016 as the worst year, ever. And yet… There have been really good times, right? This is the time of year when many of us hunker down, stay close to the fire and wait for the wintry blasts to end. And yet… We want to feel hopeful for the bright New Year. I’m recommending that we all — me included — take some time for reflection on this past year, taking stock of what occurred in our lives. It’s really important to find the gifts, lessons, challenges and blessings from the year that is ending. In this way we can truly celebrate what has come before and release whatever needs to be so we can start fresh with clarity as our New Year arrives. Along this lifetime path of discovery you will come to deeply know yourself, grow in wisdom, and rejoice in sharing your own, unique gifts, which the world sorely needs. You need to review this past year to recognize it happened to you for a reason. You may totally understand that or maybe the meaning is hidden in a cloudy mist right now. Either way, it’s OK. What’s important is the process of introspection and celebration that will help you clear the debris so that beautiful, gorgeous you can make room for the new possibilities that will be coming in your New Year. And so, I am offering a gift to help you examine this past year and set your intentions for … Continue reading

Nov. 9 ♥ Have Your Gathered in Your Harvest?

Here in the Northern Hemisphere the nights are getting cooler. The skies are a brilliant blue, colors are more vibrant, and shadows are sharp. It’s as if Mother Nature were producing one last, stupendous hurrah before the darker, colder months descend upon us. As I look out my window, I appreciate this time of change, these golden autumnal days, and I give thanks for the fruits of the summer. As the final agricultural harvests occur, I’m also reminded that this is truly a time when we reap what we have sown, both as fact and as metaphor. Fall is a perfect time to review the previous months of this year, to note our harvests—the experiences and accomplishments we’ve had. Reflecting on your year, which of these have flowered and brought something into your life? Which have been more like weeds, crowding out your dreams? As the final agricultural harvests occur, I’m also reminded that this is truly a time when we reap what we have sown, both as fact and as metaphor. Fall is a perfect time to review the previous months of this year, to note our harvests—the experiences and accomplishments we’ve had. This exercise is not about noticing which list is longer, the flowers or the weeds. It’s a time for reflection so you can express gratitude for what you’ve done and who you’ve become. And equally important, it’s a time to recall how you have dealt with any challenges that may have occurred. Both offer you opportunities … Continue reading

Oct. 25 ♥ Apologize, But Not Too Much

I’m sorry. Oops, sorry. I’m sooooo sorry. Sometimes we use these phrases to avoid conflict and offset potential anger: “I’m sorry to bother you but…”. We think this helps keep the peace and ensures that people will continue to like us when this actually creates an imbalance in our relationships because we are putting ourselves in a submissive position. Or maybe we’re so eager to foster cooperation and community that we apologize just so we can move on. What we’re really saying is that our honesty takes a back seat to getting along. The common denominator here is that we’re giving away our power, freely and willingly. When we apologize inappropriately the implicit message is that there’s something wrong with us and that we don’t know what we need. We somehow don’t measure up. When we do this often enough it becomes our truth. So what’s the remedy? We need to say what we mean, without apology. Instead of “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you”, try, “Would you repeat that, please?” Feel the difference? We need to apologize only when it is necessary. Like when we hurt or disappoint someone. And we need to stop using “sorry” as conversational filler or when we have no control over what happened. There are great gifts waiting when we stop over-apologizing: improved self-respect and self-awareness, and more honest relationships with others.   Now It’s Your Turn Pay attention to how often you apologize and stop and reflect on why you’ve said, “I’m sorry” … Continue reading

Aug. 17 ♥ Say YES to Rewards and Watch What Happens

What is a goal? According to Merriam-Webster it’s something that you’re trying to achieve. Usually we determine a goal without much forethought, which often leads to frustration, incompleteness or failure. Remember January’s resolutions? How are those working out? Knowing the goal you want to attain is not sufficient to guarantee success. It’s important to do a reality check assessing how passionate you are about the goal, how certain you are that you will complete it and how committed you are to making it happen. If any of these are lacking, your goal is almost certainly doomed. So, let’s say your goal passes the above litmus test. How else can you increase the odds of achieving it? Here’s the process I recently followed that led to a successful personal goal. I outlined the various steps needed, chunking them into logical sections. And at the completion of each chunk I got a reward. If I didn’t complete the section, I got no reward. Simple. Up front I made sure that my rewards were motivationally juicy and that they would happen often, usually weekly. My rewards were predictable and outlined before I even began to work on a task. What I noticed was that I really looked forward to the upcoming reward. My brain wanted these rewards. I’m sitting here wearing adorable blue flats I earned by completing some tasks on my way to the goal. Every time I wear them I’m reminded that I followed through, training my brain to take me … Continue reading

March 23 ♥ You Get What You Reward

Did you mom ever say something like this when you were growing up? “You have to finish your vegetables and then you can have dessert.” I know for me that was a powerful motivator, especially since I have a sweet tooth. My mom was using a powerful if-then link: do a behavior and it will be followed by a reward. I know some people say that wanting to do something and then following through should be reward enough but that’s not the way the brain works. When our brain links behavior with feelings of pleasure, we become more likely to repeat that behavior. In essence, the brain “says”, “Ooh, that felt great; let’s have more of that!” Our brains can’t distinguish “good” behavior from “bad”. All our brains know is it felt good, so let’s do it again. The moral of the story: what you reward will produce more of the same. I know I want to stop reading email and Facebook while I’m in bed. So I’ve set up a reward system to pay myself $1 every day I refrain from my bad habit. And as a reminder of my commitment I have a very visible bowl on my desk that is quickly filling up with one-dollar bills earmarked to buy special watercolor paint. And am I ever motivated! The trick is to find the appropriate reward for you. Everyone is different. You’ll want to identify what will lead to that pleasurable feeling in your brain and associate that hit … Continue reading